What Should I Do If I have a Landlord/Tenant Problem?

Posted on Apr 1, 2013 in Landlord Tenant Information, OCP

If you have a residential landlord/tenant problem, there are a number of things you can do:

  1. Call the Landlord/Tenant Information Center at 586-2634. Center staff can provide you with information about Hawaii’s Residential Landlord/Tenant Code. The Landlord/Tenant Information Center operates from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Mondays thru Fridays, except on state holidays.
  2. Get a copy of the Hawaii Residential Landlord/Tenant Code Handbook, issued by the State Office of Consumer Protection. This handbook answers some frequently asked questions about the Landlord/Tenant Code and provides basic information for tenants and landlords. The handbook costs $2.00 per copy.
  3. If you have internet access, you can read or print a copy of the handbook by going to the Office of Consumer Protection website at www.hawaii.gov/dcca/ocp. Note that both the Handbook and the Code are also available at your nearest neighborhood library (look for Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 521 in the reference section of the library).
  4. After you determine what your rights are under the code, discuss the problem with the owner of your unit, the owner’s managing agent or the resident manager for the apartment/condo complex. In many instances, you can resolve your problems without resorting to formal legal action. Always keep good notes of the dates and nature of your discussions, and keep copies of any letters you may send or receive during the course of your negotiations, just in case you are not able to resolve your dispute.
  5. If informal discussions do not resolve your problems, you may wish to participate in mediation or some other form of dispute resolution. If your mediation is successful, you may be able to avoid a time-consuming and expensive court process. Even if you do end up in court, mediation will usually be required before a judge hears your case.
  6. If you cannot resolve your dispute by agreement, you may be a party to a formal legal proceeding. If you have a dispute involving your security deposit, you will bring the action in Small Claims Court. If your landlord has a dispute with you, you may be a defendant in an action brought in District Court. The District Court has a number of publications available to help you with the legal process.
  7. In any court proceeding, be prepared to present your case to the judge and to the court-appointed mediators. You should have all of your documentation in hand, including your contract, cancelled checks, receipts, and correspondence between you and the landlord or the landlord’s representative.

If you have questions about the Hawaii Residential Landlord/Tenant Code, call 586-2634, Monday through Friday 8 am to 12 noon, for assistance.